Towers clarifies comments on inside pitching
General manager hopes to see opposing hitters off balance but not hit
PHOENIX -- D-backs general manager Kevin Towers wanted to make one thing perfectly clear Wednesday morning: He is not saying he wants his pitchers to start hitting batters on purpose next year.
Tuesday on his weekly show broadcast on KTAR 620AM, Towers was asked about his comments earlier in the day about wanting the D-backs' pitchers to own the inner half of the plate.
"But I think come Spring Training, it will be duly noted that it's going to be an eye for an eye and we're going to protect one another," Towers said of what his message would be to the pitchers next spring. "If not, if you have options, there's ways to get you out of here, and you don't follow suit or you don't feel comfortable doing it, you probably don't belong in a Diamondbacks uniform."
The phrase "eye for an eye" drew some criticism, and when informed of the reaction to it, Towers wanted to make it crystal clear what he meant.
"I'm not saying hit players on purpose," Towers said. "I'm saying if our hitters are being made uncomfortable at the plate, we need to be the same way; we need to make the opposing hitters uncomfortable at the plate and pitch in with purpose and take that inner third away. I'm talking about pitching inside effectively with purpose. Sometimes they're not always strikes, but you pitch in to a hitter to be able to get the slider down and away.
"If you're pitching to the middle third or the outer third without pitching inside on a consistent basis, you're not going to be successful. I just thought as a staff we spent too much on the middle third or outer third."
Towers pointed to an example of an eye for an eye when D-backs reliever Heath Bell hit Padres shortstop Ronny Cedeno in the helmet with a pitch.
Bell said after the game that he did not do it on purpose and that the Padres did not appear to think he did either, yet the next inning the Padres' Luke Gregerson threw inside to Aaron Hill.
"Luke Gregerson threw a two-seam fastball inside, and the bat went up in the air and it knocked him off his feet," Towers said. "I said, 'You know what, that's baseball.' They weren't trying to hurt Aaron Hill. They were protecting their player. It was pitched in with purpose to send a message. I applaud that, and that was from the other club. It's the way baseball is played. He ended up getting him out on the outer half because he took away the inner half."
Towers also clarified what he meant when he said that if D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt were to get hit next year, "somebody's going to get jackknifed."
"I think when some people hear 'jackknife,' they think I'm talking about stabbing someone, or injuring someone," Towers said. "Jackknifing is a baseball term for moving a guy's feet. When you talk about jackknifing a hitter, you're talking about moving somebody's feet, not hitting somebody or hurting somebody."
After watching the Dodgers club six home runs, including three by Juan Uribe, against his team Sept. 9, Towers said his temper boiled over when the Dodgers showed players celebrating on the Jumbotron.
"They panned down to the dugout, and they were jamming bananas in their mouths and really just making a mockery of us," Towers said. "I just said if I had a carton full of balls sitting next to me, I would have thrown it in their dugout. I was just tired of getting beat up."
Towers said after that game he had a meeting with manager Kirk Gibson and then-pitching coach Charles Nagy, who was dismissed Monday, to express his disappointment that despite the six home runs, none of the D-backs pitchers pitched inside to keep the Dodgers off balance.
Because of that, Towers said, the Dodgers' hitters were able to feast on balls on the outer third of the plate and swing from their heels.
"It was me, Gibby and Charles Nagy," Towers said. "I said, 'We need to make guys uncomfortable at the plate after two or three home runs. Move somebody's feet. Not hit somebody, but move them off the plate, make them move their feet.' It wasn't, 'Go bean some guys.' No."
Nagy has declined to comment on his departure from the D-backs other than to thank the organization for the opportunity to coach and the fans for their support during his three years on Gibson's staff.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.